Snapping Hip Syndrome

What is ‘Snapping or Clicking Hip Syndrome’?

This is a general term that refers to a hip that clicks or “snaps”.  The cause for the clicking can arise from inside the joint, such as a cartilage tear or loose piece of cartilage, or can arise from outside the joint due to tendons flicking over the hip joint and causing a click.  The “snapping hip” or clicking hip is not a diagnosis, but is a symptom that needs further assessment in order to determine the cause and therefore allow appropriate treatment.

What symptoms does Snapping or Clicking cause?

If caused by a psoas tendon problem, an audible snapping or popping noise as the tendon at the hip flexor crease moves from flexion (knee toward waist) to extension (knee down and hip joint straightened) can occur.  After extended exercise pain or discomfort may be present caused by inflammation of the iliopsoas bursa. Pain often decreases with rest and diminished activity. Symptoms usually last months or years without treatment and can be very painful.

The snapping sensation can also arise from a tight iliotibial band flicking over the upper, outer part of the hip.

Finally, a tear in the cartilage or labrum of the hip joint can cause a click that is often painful and can cause the hip joint to lock.

What can be done?

If the snapping or clicking is caused by the psoas tendon or iliotibial band then physiotherapy is often recommended in the first instance and can be sucessful.  Surgery for these conditions is a last resort but can be indicated in some resistant cases.

For labral tears, treatment with a hip arthroscopy can be used to repair or trim the tear and is usually successful in curing the problem.